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From creeks, to rivers to the ocean: Growing your audience through communication channels

I was walking my dog the other morning along Mosquito Creek, and in a very ambitious circle route we ended up along the Capilano River, and finally out to the Pacific Ocean. As is often the case on dog walks, the inspiration for blog and newsletter content hits. Specifically this week, on how we need to grow our communication channels from creeks, to rivers, which then lead to the large ocean.

When we first start growing an audience for a blog or newsletter, it is often through communication channels that are small creeks. That might be through posting to forums, sharing content on Facebook or LinkedIn, leaving comments on other blogs, and tweeting. While these are all valuable channels, and they certainly result in some traffic, they usually don’t result in significant growth. It’s slow and steady. I’m a big fan of good growth through patience, but the speed can be a little frustrating.

When we first start growing an audience for a blog or newsletter, it is often through communication channels that are small creeks. That might be through posting to forums, sharing content on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn, leaving comments on other blogs, and tweeting. While these are all valuable channels, and they certainly result in some traffic, they usually don’t result in significant growth. It’s slow and steady. I’m a big fan of good growth through patience, but the speed can be a little frustrating.

It can start to get exciting when a little channel creek leads to a river. The river is when someone with a large email newsletter shares your article, an influencer with a significant social media following shares your content with his or her followers, or a popular blog features your content. It can also happen if you are interviewed on a popular podcast, or if you score some earned media through a radio or TV interview, or are featured as a contributor in a largely distributed and well-targeted publication.

Rivers are where you get the exponential growth to be kicked out to the big ocean. Rivers run fast and hard in terms of growing your audience, but usually back off after the initial hit. However, the flow never returns to the volume of the creek. It always remains elevated. That is why incremental hits and home runs in communications channels that are the rivers is the fastest way to grow an audience.

Of course you can “buy” big communications channels by spending money on advertising, but the smart way is to earn publicity and strategically target channels with the potential for big wins. That was my take away, courtesy of Ember, my labradoodle. Ever the playful and carefree companion, who knew she could provoke such insight while diving for rocks? Yes she’s a little nuts, fully immersing herself, eyes wide open retrieving what at times appear more like boulders, no doubt to impress me. Less so the vet who will question her oral care I’m sure!

As my walk along the Mosquito Creek demonstrated, it was nice, but it will always play small. The Capilano River was powerful and undeniably headed to the big ocean. That’s where we want our communication channels to take our content.

I’ve seen this analogy play out with my own content and readership growth over the years. I can point to times after being interviewed on radio and TV, or after an article was published in a widely read publication to when there was a significant boost to website visits or enewsletter subscribers. I’ve also seen it when a significant influencer has shared or commented on my material. While weekly sharing of content on social media, and engaging on other blogs is part of my weekly ritual, I know for a fact it only drives a small steady growth of audience. The quantum leaps come from the big communication channels – the rivers.

If you’re curious to learn more about marketing with media – specifically utilizing social media strategically, gaining earned media through free publicity, or getting an article published on a big media channel, my course “Marketing with Media: spend less time, get more results” might be of interest. You can learn more about it through this LINK. It’s a 6 module video and PDF notes formatted course that I sell for $349. But if you’re interested in having a little sample for free, email me mary@charleson.ca and I’ll set you up for module 4: Your earned media – leverage publicity and public relations. Yes, FREE. And that’s the stuff about communication rivers, the kind of exposure that can really ramp up your audience. If you like what you see, I hope you’ll consider the whole course, or perhaps tell a friend?

What this all comes down to is your audience is your best marketing. And when you grow your audience properly through sharing great content, they will do your marketing for you. That audience too is also the core for your future business success as they will consider purchasing products or services from you. So for those who regularly share my content, I thank you!

In fact, do you know someone who needs to hear this exact message as they grow their business and their audience? Share this with them through the social share buttons on the post, or suggest they subscribe to my weekly e-newsletter. That link is just above!

Thanks again for being here weekly. Let me know if this creek/river/ocean communication channels analogy resonates with you. Email me mary@charleson.ca It has certainly clarified for me where maintenance effort should be placed, and where concerted targeted initiatives deserve more attention.

Until next week, as the 80s band Talking Heads would say, “Take me to the river!”

Mary Charleson

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